Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: MTI

Minister: Russia not seen as security threat in Hungary

Hungary does not consider Russia a direct security threat to its territory but understands and respects that other NATO member states think differently, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Brussels on Wednesday after a two-day session of NATO foreign ministers.

As a committed NATO member, Hungary has always been loyal to its allies, Szijjarto told Hungarian journalists. Hungary has contributed to NATO’s reinforcement actions on its eastern wing and will continue to help to boost the Baltic states’ “security and sense of security”, he said.

If Hungary is loyal to its allies, it can rightly expect them to follow suit if the rights of Ukraine’s ethnic Hungarian community are “systematically and grossly violated”, Szijjarto said. “Hungary will always take a stand for the rights of ethnic Hungarian communities, irrespective of their size,” the minister said.

Hungary cannot accept that ethnic minority issues are seen as bilateral affairs, as the obligation to respect national minorities forms part and parcel of international standards and several NATO documents, Szijjarto said. Nor can Hungary accept any reference to Russian presence in Ukraine as an excuse for the violation of Hungarian minority rights, Szijjarto said. Transcarpathian Hungarians cannot be blamed for what is under way in eastern Ukraine, he added. Hungary expects its allies to make it clear for Ukraine that meeting its obligations, including respect for minority rights, is a precondition for it to more closely cooperate with NATO, Szijjarto said.

Concerning central Europe’s energy supply, the minister said that the countries in question would need new infrastructure and new supply routes to be able to purchase gas from new sources. To diversify their energy import, they would require financial support for the construction of new gas pipelines and that the companies concerned should make a strategic approach and not only a financial one.

The minister expressed hope that the channels of communication with Russia would remain open for the discussion of crucial issues and that the level of East-West confrontation would decrease in the period to come. “We, central Europeans have a vested interest in a civilised and calm East-West dialogue based on mutual respect,” he said.

In response to a question, Szijjarto said Hungary’s choice of anti-coronavirus vaccines had never been motivated by ideological considerations. “It is high time that ideologically motivated anti-vaxx propaganda were discontinued both in Hungary and abroad,” he said.

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